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How psychology can help you make your business more agile

Many organisations today are asking how they can become more agile – and with good reason. Agility can be loosely defined as an organisation’s capacity to keep pace with and benefit from the technological changes surrounding it; and, with technology continuing to develop at an exponential rate, that capacity is becoming more important than ever.

Conversations about achieving organisational agility tend, understandably, to focus on approaches and outcomes. What qualities and capabilities do senior leaders need to be able to cultivate a truly agile culture? How can we revise our performance management practices to reinforce desired behaviours? Which processes can we simplify or eliminate without undermining our ability to deliver results? What does it mean to become a truly agile organisation and how will we know when we have achieved it?

One question that is rarely addressed, however, is who exactly should be tasked with finding solutions to these challenges. The tacit assumption, perhaps, is that it is the responsibility of HR practitioners; and, while this is certainly true in part, it ignores the critical role experts from other fields can play in enabling HR to achieve its strategic goals.

When it comes to building an agile workforce, for example, behavioural scientists should be able to work alongside HR practitioners to help them select, develop and nurture the right people, in the right ways. There are two areas in particular where their business psychology expertise can be applied:

  1. Leveraging the most up-to-date research on holistic ways to design, develop and lead an agile, digital workforce
  2. Harnessing the science of personality and individual differences to create assessments that go beyond personal intuition to identify and select leaders with genuinely agile traits

For social and behavioural science to be at its most effective, it must be applied through human-centred digital platforms that enable practitioners to mine data for insights and to engage with people in ways that pre-digital assessment could not afford. This means doing more than simply putting existing tools online; it requires the complete digitalisation of the assessment domain.

Cutting edge business psychology increasingly operates at the intersection between applied organisation development practice, social and behavioural sciences, and digital innovation. This enables businesses to select, develop and nurture the right people in the right ways, as they strive to achieve the organisational agility that today’s business environment demands.

For an in-depth examination of organisational agility, including approaches and actions businesses can take to achieve it, read Dr Kiran Chitta’s, agility white paper, and keep an eye out for his forthcoming book Strive: Unlocking agility and unleashing talent in a digital world published by Troubadour in November 2018

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